Lonna Rae Atkeson to lead LeRoy Collins Institute

Lonna Atkeson
She'll succeed retiring Carol Weissert at FSU's political science institute.

Lonna Rae Atkeson has been named the new director of the LeRoy Collins Institute at Florida State University.

Atkeson, who will be coming to Tallahassee from New Mexico, is being lauded as a renowned expert on election science and administration, survey research, public policy, voting rights, state politics, public opinion, and political behavior.

She will oversee all daily activities of the institute, the nonpartisan organization that studies and promotes policy solutions to issues facing the people of Florida and the United States.

Atkeson will succeed Carol S. Weissert, who is retiring at the end of July after serving as director of the LeRoy Collins Institute for 14 years.

Atkeson comes to the Institute from a position as professor and regents lecturer of political science at the University of New Mexico. She has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and various private companies. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the JEHT Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, the Thornburg Foundation, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the New Mexico Secretary of State, and Bernalillo County, New Mexico.

She holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California at Riverside, and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in Boulder.

She will assume her role at the LeRoy Collins Institute on Aug. 9.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Atkeson as our new director,” Lester Abberger, the institute’s chairman, said in a news release. “As a scholar and expert on public policy and elections, Dr. Atkeson is uniquely positioned to lead the Institute into the future.”

Weissert first arrived at Florida State in 2003 as LeRoy Collins Eminent Scholar Chair and professor of political science at Florida State. She became director of the institute in 2007. Prior to that, Weissert had been professor of political science and director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University.

Atkeson also will assume the LeRoy Collins Eminent Scholar Chair and be a professor of political science at FSU.

“Dr. Atkeson’s experience throughout her career and her knowledge of policy and research make her an ideal fit for the Institute,” Weissert said in the release. “We are honored to have her join us and look forward to her tenure leading the organization through an interesting period in our nation’s political life.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


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